Reflect and Connect: The First and the Latest of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

It’s all about connecting. Making jewelry that means something to you, your friend, family, or customer is about establishing a connection with others. Wearing the jewelry is connecting with the giver who thought of you, the jewelry artist whose hands formed the piece, the designer who envisioned it, perhaps the person who inspired the design. It’s also about connecting with the makers who’ve taught you how, who’ve shared their vision, their expertise, and their love of the craft with you. And in time, it’s also about teaching, when you pass that treasured information on to someone else.

ABOVE: Jeff Fulkerson’s variscite ring project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018 in “From Mine to Maker” — along with a companion piece about digging for variscite, “Hitting Pay Dirt.” Photo: Jim Lawson

From 70 Years of Lapidary Journal

As editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, I am in the incredibly fortunate position of making connections with so many artisans devoted to keeping the tradition alive. Earlier this year I made a brand-new connection that goes back to the magazine’s start. Published in April, 1947, Raymond Addison’s “Cameo and Intaglio Carving” appeared as the cover story of Volume 1, Number 1, of Lapidary Journal. This spring I heard from Addison’s great-niece. While compiling a family genealogy, she had seen the graceful cameo cover online in our tribute to the magazine’s 70th anniversary. She was seeking information about more that Lapidary Journal had published by or about her great-uncle, and I helped her as best I could. In return she kindly sent me a copy of the finished genealogy, which recently arrived. It sent me back to the gentleman’s inspiring tale. Here are some highlights, as timely as ever.

Betsy Lehndorff shows how she made a custom Michigan gravel pendant

What a coincidence! In the latest issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, Betsy Lehndorff shows how she made a custom Michigan gravel pendant this year for the Alcona County Road Commission! Process photos above: Betsy Lehndorff; finished pendant photo below: Jim Lawson

Betsy Lehndorff shows how she made a custom Michigan gravel pendant

Michigan gravel pendant for the Alcona County Road Commission by Betsy Lehndorff.

How he started:
  • Boyhood examining rocks and gravel pits in central Michigan, shapes a few stones
  • Studies art, later (per his great-niece) becomes an instrument maker at the forerunner of NASA
  • As an engraver and stonesetter, sees the occasional shell or agate cameo come into the shop
  • Wants to try cameo carving, teaches himself through trial and error
  • Commissioned to carve a portrait rather than the standard mythological figure: more trial and error, but client is happy
  • Enters a contest with a sizable piece (5” x 6-1/2”) mounted in bronze, and “received a note from the jury [that] . . . it wasn’t a true cameo; that one could not be made like that and it could not be classed as art . . . [or] placed in the exhibit.”
  • Is quite discouraged, then goes back to it, continues to improve, and creates more commissions in shell and later agate

 

Designer Kylie Jones says the striking patterns and strong contrasting colors of Botswana agate were the driving force behind her Byzantine Botswana chain maille bracelet. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018, along with more about the agate in Smokin’ Stones. Photo: Jim Lawson

Designer Kylie Jones says the striking patterns and strong contrasting colors of Botswana agate were the driving force behind her Byzantine Botswana chain maille bracelet. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018, along with more about the agate in Smokin’ Stones. Photo: Jim Lawson

How he does it:
  • Selecting the shell or stone is as much about finding the right subject for this material as the right material for this subject
  • You need to see: use magnification, and for portraits, good photos with good detail. Multiple photos help you bring one pose into life.
  • Match tools with how you use them. Pick the right blade, e.g., but its angle is affected by the angle at which you hold it.
  • Finally, this gem: “Good tools, fine material, exceptional skill, and beautiful subjects are all necessary . . . [but] the best tool in the kit is patience.”

The “wow” factor in Roger Halas’s high-contrast “Scary Swimmer” pendant is the result of precision fabrication, a fine eye for picking the right materials, and the patience needed to make it all work. The riveted and patinated project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

In one version or another, “Cameo and Intaglio Carving” is a classic story I’ve read many times. Underlying the thoughtful instruction is a tale of triumph over adversity and, most inspiring to me, of reaching for our very best selves. It seems especially apt at this contemplative season, as the year draws to a close and we reflect on what we’ve accomplished and hope to accomplish next. In that spirit, we offer you and yours our warmest wishes for the holidays in 2018, and the ability to rise surely and gracefully to your own challenges in the new year.

Merle

Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. This post is adapted from her column, “Classic and Timely,” in the November/December 2018 issue.

Find More in the November/December issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist!

Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018 is rich in beautiful projects, cool materials and tools, tried-and-true technical tips, and sound business advice. Click any image below to see more from this issue!

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